I spent quite a bit of time in Batumi. Finn went back to Ireland to get out Pakistan visa and to go to his college graduation so the bike tour was put on hold for a while. I enjoyed having a decent break anyway, during the last few days in Turkey we had both been feeling tired so a decent rest from cycling was long overdue.
Batumi is an interesting place, it’s right by the Black Sea and a really nice promenade extends around a headland filled with new skyscrapers going up, along a stoney breach for maybe 5km. From the seaside inland the city is nice, orderly and clean from three blocks until you cross the main road of the city and get into ‘real’ Georgia, where everything is ten times as busy, hectic and noisy. The old town where most of the hostels are found is funny, it’s all cobblestones and old European architecture, but I’m pretty sure it was all put in recently as a ploy for tourists to have somewhere nice to walk around.
During the stay in Batumi I ran into a bunch of other cycle tourers who had either just come the way we had, or from the way were planning to go. First was an American guy named Dan who had been a rock climber when he was younger and had gotten into bike touring later in life when his son invited him on a tour of SE Asia. Dan had just done a small cycle from Ankara to Batumi while over from the USA on a business trip.
Next was Grum from New Zealand who was cycling around the world in 900 days. He had originally planned 5 years, but his wife was having none of that, so 900 days was what he had worked out. When I met him he was into month 17 of the trip and had come via Nepal and Iran and he passed on some great info about cycling in those counties. You can check out his website
There was also Gerrard, a retiree from the UK who had been all over the world before it seemed, and was still trucking(peddling?). Previous tours had taken him through Asia and also Syria and Egypt, a route he wanted to repeat this time but had to change direction given the current climate. He was trying to get an Iranian visa in Batumi, having heard (I’m not sure from where) that it was possible to get one here without the usual bureaucratically hullabaloo needed. I’m not sure if his hearsay panned out as we left before he managed to get his visa.
There was also a Canadian backpacker called Adam who had been in the go seven months and getting a bit bored of the backpacking lifestyle. After sitting around and listening to us all go on about how fantastic travelling by bike is, he struck a deal with Dan to buy his bike when Dan finished his tour at Odessa, Ukraine and start his own tour from there. I thought it was very cool to jump in just like that, no experience of it before.
Finn returned after a week back in Ireland with Pakistan visas in hand and a whole lot of winter gear we had ordered before he left. Having the visas done is a real bonus, Pakistan is a notoriously difficult country to get a visa for on the road (they seem to only issues tourist visas in country of residence). A big goal of the trip is to go cycling along the Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China and having one of the two permits required to get on the highway at the start of is next leg was a great lift.
The time off in Batumi was munch appreciate but I was ready to get going again once Finn got back.